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The Amirul Mujahidin returns to his Lord and Creator
On July 13, 2003, Sheikh Salamat Hashim, Chairman of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), Amirul Mujahidin and Imam of the Bangsamoro people, returned to the Grace and Mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
The Amir was among the original Moro leaders who founded the Bangsamoro revolutionary movement that gave birth to the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) and then the MILF
With the demise of the Amir, the Bangsamoro has lost a guide, a friend, a father, nay, its greatest leader in contemporary Moro history.
This greatest loss, however, is not only to the Bangsamoro. The Islamic Movement in this part of the world shall also feel it.
The Amir possessed all the intrinsic qualities that made him the true leader of the Bangsamoro people.
By birth, he was a scion of the royal families of Maguindanao. To the traditional leadership of the Bangsamoro people, therefore, he was not a stranger but one who belonged to its privileged ranks.
Yet, despite this blood affiliation with traditional Moro aristocracy, the Amir remained as humble as the humblest Moro peasant. His model was the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, peace be upon him. To him, what mattered most is taqwa and commitment to the cause of the global Islamic Movement and the oppressed and the weak – a cause to which he devoted much of his life.
By educational discipline, he was an ‘alim, an Islamic scholar who was a product of the oldest and most prestigious seat of learning in the Muslim world, Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. His love for learning was such that even when he was in Camp Abubakar as-Siddiq, he maintained a library in the jungle. Thus, not only did the Amir belong to the ulama, he was considered by his peers as the first among equals, a combatant ‘alim, and therefore the leader among them.
But the Amir not only had the right to leadership by virtue of his royal lineage and his being an ‘alim. He also possessed the revolutionary idealism and activism of the Moro youth, shared their vision and translated this vision into a life-long mission. It is this particular quality in the Amir’s character that endeared him to the Moro youth who immediately recognized in him the embodiment of their revolutionary aspirations.
Under his tutelage, the young secular-educated Moro professionals, both men and women, were able to unite in action and act in unity with the ulama that eventually resulted in the fruition of the Islamic Revolution in the Bangsamoro homeland.
With his consistent compassion for the oppressed and the weak, his clear and deep understanding of the true meaning of Islam, and his resolute will and sabr to undergo all sacrifices and hardships for the sake of the sacred cause of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, it was inevitable that he would symbolize the Islamic revolutionary struggle for liberation, lead the jihad of the Bangsamoro, and rightfully earn for himself the title of Amirul Mujahidin and, subsequently as Imam of the Bangsamoro people.
The Amir had a simple passion in life: freedom.
It is this passionate yearning for freedom that impelled him to stay with the oppressed, share their sufferings, and court death in the hands of the oppressors and enemies of peace. Many times he was offered the security and comfort of a sanctuary in friendly Muslim countries. But the Amir gracefully spurned these offers, preferring instead to live with the impoverished Bangsamoro masses, seek refuge and comfort in prayers to his Creator, and patiently endure the spartan life of a mujahid in the harsh jungles, mountains and marshes of the Bangsamoro homeland.
Even when the rigors of guerilla life were taking their heavy toll on the age and health of the Amir, he refused to be secreted out of the homeland for medication abroad. Neither did he ever even give a moment’s thought to the political positions offered to him by people in the Filipino government in exchange for compromise. To the very end, he fulfilled his covenant with his Creator and unflinchingly stood by his people in their trials and tribulations.
No other Moro leader of the same stature has ever sacrificed that much.
The Amir once uttered these memorable words that define his legacy to posterity: “Even if I die, the next generation will continue the struggle. I have planted the seed of jihad in the heart of the Bangsamoro.”
Indeed, the Amir may have joined the ranks of the shuhadah of Islam, yet he lives in the jihad that he had planted in hearts of the Bangsamoro people. His physical presence would certainly be missed, his demise lamented by every Muslim whether here or abroad, but his indomitable spirit and the exemplary Islamic revolutionary leadership that he had shown when he was with us would forever inspire us and the generations yet to come to continue the struggle with even greater resolve until the sacred banner of Islam is firmly planted on the soil of our occupied homeland and the Bangsamoro people have gained their freedom and independence from colonial bondage.
As we, therefore, bid farewell to the Imam of the Bangsamoro people, let the Qur’an al Kareem pay this fitting tribute to a noble son of Islam, a devoted servant of Allah
“(To the righteous soul will be said:) ‘O (thou) soul, in complete rest and satisfaction! Come back thou to thy Lord, – Well pleased (thyself), and well-pleasing unto Him! Enter thou, then among my Devotees! Yea, enter thou My Paradise!” (Al Fajar: 27-30).
ABHOUD SYED M. LINGGA
Bangsamoro People’s Consultative Assembly
August 6, 2003